Tom Harris has called for an “urgent ceasefire” in Gaza and “an end to the pattern of rocket attacks and periodic occupation that has left both sides living in fear.”
And the Glasgow South MP called for a full international inquiry into claims that Hamas have used “human shields” to conceal their weaponry, deliberately increasing the number of Palestinian civilian casualties for propaganda purposes.
He made the comments in a letter to constituents who have contacted him to express their concern at the recent renewed fighting between Israel and Hamas militants.
Thank you for contacting me recently regarding the continuing violence in Gaza and southern Israel.
I share your grave concern about this crisis and at the spiral of violence we have seen over the last fortnight. As ever, it is the civilian population that is suffering most from this conflict and it is now vital that both sides call a lasting ceasefire and work toward a peaceful, negotiated settlement.
More than 1850 rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza in the last fortnight, which is an intolerable situation for any government. Hamas’s main aim seems to be to provoke an Israeli backlash and the negative publicity such a backlash would incur for them.
The scale of the suffering in Gaza – which has already cost more than 580 Palestinian lives, most of whom are civilians and many of whom are innocent children – is also unacceptable and risks fuelling yet more extremism and conflict.
The people of Israel have a right to live without fear for their security, just as the people of Gaza have a right to live in peace. However, I believe the escalation we have seen in recent days has served only to bring more suffering to Palestinians and will make it harder to bring about lasting security.
That is why there now needs to be an urgent ceasefire and an end to the pattern of rocket attacks and periodic occupation that has left both sides living in fear.
However, I reject the allegation that Israel is collectively punishing Palestinians. How likely is it that a liberal democracy such as Israel, dependent on international support, would deliberately target innocent civilians? And how much more likely is it that Hamas, recognised across the world and in the UK as a terrorist organisation, which has carried out a horrific number of political executions among its own people, has – as has been widely reported – been hiding its weaponry behind human shields in hospitals and schools?
Surely what is needed is a full investigation into whether these reports are true.
Ultimately, there can be no military solution to this problem and it is only by politics and negotiation that lasting peace can be achieved. I call on Hamas to now stop their rocket attacks, for Israel to end its military operation in Gaza and for both sides to recognise the need to return to negotiations on a wider political settlement.
I also hope that the UK Government continue to work with the United Nations and our international allies to achieve a lasting ceasefire.
Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views. I can assure you that I will continue to bear them in mind as this crisis develops.
UPDATED 25 JULY 2014